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Book Review

"The Teenager's Guide to the Real World"

The 'Teenager's Guide' Spells Success for Teens

by Julie Goodpaster [From the Buffalo Sun, Thursday, Dec. 25, 1997]

Who am I?

What am I doing here?

What do I want to become?

These and many other questions and topics are explained for teens in "The Teenager’s Guide to the Real World," by Marshall Brain.

The book and extremely useful website ( to "The Teenager’s Guide to the Real World" helps teens understand what it takes to become a successful adult in today’s society and it helps teens to see how the world really works.

Brain starts with the central reality that teens get to design their own lives and he helps them to see the freedom they have to control their own lives and destinies.

The book helps teens learn a great deal more about themselves and the world around them and they are able to explore and think about their choices with a new clarity. The insights gleaned from Brain should make it easier for kids to begin planning a successful path in life.

Some teens may frown upon this book and website, but then wish they would have read it earlier on as they reach their mid-20s. This reviewer would have tossed the book aside when she was 16 or 17 years old, but now wishes she would have had it as a guide six years later.

Speaking as an authority figure, the author with the unlikely name begins the book by talking about money, much like a parent would talk to their children, and shows the reader just how much money it takes to live in America today. The most important information, in this reviewer’s opinion, can be found in the section on money, even information that can be useful for those who have passed the teenager years.

"Most teenagers don’t understand the importance of money. They also do not understand the amount of money that is required to live a normal life. This occurs for a very simple reason – parents provide teenagers with everything. Teenagers, therefore, live in a dream world. The moment you exit this dream world and have to live life yourself, your opinions about money change dramatically."

He goes on to explain in very blunt language that adults do, in fact, rule the world and how mystified teens, including himself as a teen, really are by this fact. According to the 1995 World Almanac, adults represent 70 percent of the population and teens only 10 percent.

"There are seven times as many adults as there are teenagers. In other words, if a UFO flew over the earth tomorrow and beamed up all of the teenagers, the world would hardly notice. In the grand scheme of things, teenagers are insignificant…Adults are in charge. There is nothing you can do to change this situation."

Brain also explains love, marriage, relationships, sex and the difference between men and women in the simplest of terms and shows why love, marriage, sex and children are so important to people. He says that "love is THE fact of life and the one thing central to all human existence."

"…Love is something that is fundamentally wired into the human brain. There is nothing that you can do about it. You cannot turn it on and off. It is there, it is active and that's the end of it. In fact, it is nearly impossible to separate love from human existence. Especially as a teenager, they are one and the same."

Attitude and values are also discussed in very plain terms. Brain talks about the importance of confidence, happiness, appearance, virtues, the pros and cons of being a teen and how certain decisions can ruin your life.

"It turns out that lack of confidence is a terrible thing. It robs you of a tremendous number of opportunities in your life. It wastes time. It causes emotions that hurt and tear you down. In extreme cases it causes people to commit suicide. If you are in the huge army of unconfident teenagers now, I know exactly what you would think if I were to say to you, 'You are a good person—be confident!' You would think, 'Yeah, that’s fine for you to say, but it doesn’t apply to ME. I AM a loser. I AM an idiot. I AM a weenie. I am miserable and I hate it.'"

The book logically addressed important facts about success, about money and personal finances and setting goals, weighing options, listening and controlling anger to achieve higher success.

Brain also touches on topics that many teens are not familiar with but need to know to survive in the "real world." Topics such as: laws, police and lawyers, avoiding scams and what material possessions mean.

"Here are some simple guidelines to help you avoid scams: You cannot get something for nothing, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, if you must act now you probably should not, things often are not what they seem, and if you are asked for your credit card number in an unsolicited phone call, there is a problem."

 The website to this book expands upon scams and links the user to more than 500 sites that either explain a specific scam, or are a scam. It provides a six page article on great dating ideas for teens, useful information on part-time jobs and summer jobs, car-buying information, secrets to avoiding accidents, information about college, careers and interviews and resumes, as well as different organizations that they can join and hotline numbers they can call if they have problems or need someone to talk to.

It also lists some fantastic books that will help teens understand themselves and the world around them. Books such as "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus," by John Gray and "How to Win Friends and Influence People," by Dale Carnegie, to name just a couple.

"The Teenager’s Guide to the Real World" is not a book just for teens, but for anyone learning or gaining a better understanding of themselves and the world they are living in.

A note to parents: Check out the website ( with your teens. If the information interests them, buy them the book. If it doesn't interest them, buy the book. Eventually they will read it and thank you.

BYG Publishing

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© 1997 BYG Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.